The MadAveGroup Blog
Scott Greggory, Chief Creative Officer
How many business cards have you thrown away over the years? More importantly, how many of yours do you suppose got pitched five minutes after you handed them out?
Make your card worth keeping. Add useful information or a valuable feature to it. On the flip side, print a coupon good for 15% off a purchase, details on how to get a free inspection or service review, or instructions for entering your monthly online drawing. Add a map to your location, tips on product usage, a common industry chart or anything else that will give your customers and prospects a reason to keep and refer to your card often.
Do you require your staff to use a standardized email signature, or is your company being represented by as many different signatures as it has employees? Different sizes and fonts? Different contact info? Different icons?
Rich Schurfeld is the Managing Partner of Redsson, Ltd., an electronic document management company. He says, “Some people see their email signature as a forum to apply their personal touch, but frankly, it’s not the place for it. It’s a business communication - and a good marketing tool - and the company should dictate the look and content, as it does with its other marketing materials.” Once you develop the “look and feel” of your company signature, add a short marketing message to it (info on your current sale, news of your new product or web site launch). Change the message monthly or as needed, then make sure all employees are using the same message. When you consider the total number of emails your employees send each year, you’ll see how impactful standardized signatures can be. They represent the chance to get your message out - free of charge - to your target market.
Does your news release contain real news? Or will the producers and assignment editors who receive it discard it as PR fluff? Tom Waniewski has 30 years of news and media relations experience under his belt. He’s now the principal of Waniewski Associates. He says, “If you're doing PR or coming from an advertising agency, the media's skeptical eye is always looking for what's in it for the ‘pitcher.’ They can spot a good story from a publicity stunt a mile away.”
A few tips. Even if your objective really is to promote the launch of your new product, make sure your news release communicates how the product is important to end users or the community. In other words, show that your subject is newsworthy. Also, when soliciting TV coverage, craft your press release for the producers of specific newscasts. A 2-hour weekend morning show needs different story ideas than a 6pm weeknight newscast.
For many marketers, defining their company’s Unique Selling Proposition can be tough. But what can prove even tougher is living up to that USP. Your Unique Selling Proposition is your promise to the marketplace. It’s a proclamation of who you are, what you will do, and how it’s better or different from the way others do it. But in order for it to be the powerful marketing tool it can be, it has to be your company’s gospel. Every employee must know the USP and execute it on a daily basis. If current or potential customers notice a wide enough gap between your USP and their actual experience with your company, their perception of you can quickly take a nose dive. If you promote your friendly service, give friendly service...always. Keeping your marketing promises can do wonders for your brand and your long-term success.
In their Sept. 28, 2006 online issue, AdAge notes that, last year, Americans under 25 chose the Internet more often than traditional entertainment channels, like TV, radio and movie theatres. Podcasts are a favorite format for that younger demo. The medium is enjoying “15 to 30% year-over-year growth” according to Murgesh Navar, founder of Podbridge. There are several attractive aspects of Podcasting for marketers as well, including low production cost, flexibility and immediacy. While the 25 and under crowd often seeks out premium content (network TV shows, for instance), companies can create audio or video Podcasts for their target audiences - customers and prospects.
Content can focus on selling a product or service, how to best use an item, or maybe how to maintain or repair it. A book store might Podcast a passage from the month’s hot new titles. A vet’s office could provide pet care tips via a weekly Podcast. Or the owner of a wine store might educate her customers about an exciting vintage via Podcast. Podcasts can be archived on your website or actively distributed through various channels.
Want to build credibility with prospective customers? Use testimonials. If you know of current customers who would be willing to boast about your company in writing, put them to work: ask each of them for a testimonial letter. In most cases, people are more than willing to vouch for companies they enjoy working with, so don’t be afraid to reap a little of the goodwill you’ve been sowing.
If your customers are too busy to write letters, they can still help. During a quick phone call, ask them to name the three things they like most about your company, products and/or services. Write the letters yourself from their point of view, working in as many of their direct quotes as possible. Once each customer approves his or her testimonial, ask them to print it on their company letterhead. Then, start working the letters into your marketing materials. Display them in your lobby; put them on your website; include excerpts from them in your advertising.
If certain customers are particularly pleased with your company and have a customer base that can benefit from your offerings, develop endorsement letters. In these letters your customers can introduce your services to their customers and recommend they call you. The letters should be written on your customers’ letterhead and mailed in their envelopes to maximize credibility. Remember, always make this type of campaign as easy as possible for your customers, cover all of their costs, and offer them something of value in return for their help.
It’s one of the many great lines from the movie The Godfather: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” While “enemies” may be too strong a word to describe your competitors, keeping track of what they’re doing makes good business sense. Subscribe to their newsletters. Collect their collateral and print ads. Monitor their websites and broadcast advertising. Doing so will give you insight into their sales and marketing strategies, and keep you up-to-date on their product offerings.
Another benefit: By understanding how others in your industry present themselves to the public, you’ll have a better idea of how to craft your own marketing materials so they differentiate your company from your competitors. You might also consider shopping the competition for price, or hiring a mystery shopper service to uncover their customer experience strengths and weaknesses.
Once you’ve finalized your marketing pieces - whether it’s a direct mail or post card campaign, a brochure or series of print ads, TV spots, emails or materials in any other format - share them with all of your employees.
Your marketing is your promise to customers and prospects, and you should want everyone on your team to know what those people are expecting of your company. Sharing your marketing pieces can also unite your company’s employees behind a common cause: the goals of your marketing department.
Finally, you’re sure to create goodwill and a sense of belonging among your staff when you include them in the process. You may even want to use them as in an in-house focus group by actively soliciting their feedback.
A classic example is the music industry. Record companies give CDs to radio stations in hopes they’ll play certain tracks, generating interest in - and sales of - their music. Radio benefits from the free programming and giveaways.
With what company or industry can you create a similar symbiosis? Get creative. Think of other companies that share your target audience. Then, work together to build a mutually beneficial relationship. An example: if you sell cars, provide a local TV station with their news vehicles and ongoing maintenance in exchange for spots touting you as “the official automotive dealer of Channel 12.”
What would you rather read about in this space: our company’s most recent accomplishments, that shiny new plaque I just accepted at our industry’s annual conference, and the new headquarters we just built? Or would you prefer to spend your valuable time reading something that’s about you and your needs; an article that will help you get ahead or improve your company’s marketing?
Because you’re a human being with natural human tendencies you want content that’s directed at you. Right?
Once you understand that about yourself, it’s easy to see that your customers and prospects are more interested in sales and marketing materials that appeal to their specific needs; content that will help them see how your product or service will solve their problems and ease their pains.
So, when you’re writing copy for your website, your next print campaign or even a customer service letter, use pronouns that are directed at your audience. When you change the focus from “we” and “us” to “you” and “your”, customers will find it much easier to see the benefits they’ll reap from doing business with you.